(Oh, hey, look, a wolverine!) Happy summer, everyone! Enjoy the fact that this is the first time in ages that we’ve experienced mid-eighties temperatures before a single “summer” movie has come out yet. Also, get an office pool going on how long it will take for you to achieve summer-movie burnout.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine: Or, The Mutant Chronicle. Look, I’m not saying that this movie looks good, exactly. But I will say that between all of the doomsaying over this troubled production and the vitriol directed at Spider-Man 3, I’m not sure there’s been proper Marvel nerd anger expressed over just how fucking lame X-Men: The Last Stand was. Spider-Man 3 at least seems to care about its characters and has lots of awesome, underappreciated Sam Raimi stuff going on. But Fox had this rare franchise that didn’t seem destined to peter out after a trilogy, what with years of ridiculous comics continuity and rich supporting heroes and villains to be mined. So, of course, when Bryan Singer walked away after two excellent installments, the solution they came up with was to hire Brett Ratner to cram three or four movies’ worth of characters and storylines into a single, abbreviated, 105-minute attempt at a trilogy-capper in which characters are killed off for no reason and/or off-screen, the story proceeds in multiple idiotic lurches, and all of the bad mutants are minorities and punks. Having thoroughly ruined a flagship property — even Last Stand‘s series-high gross couldn’t make up for apparently out-of-control production costs — Fox scattered the remains to the wind in the form of these proposed Origins movies. Of course, as others have pointed out, Wolverine is pretty much the only member of the X-Men popular enough to flirt with profitability in an origin-based spinoff. From the looks of the ads, they’ve already attempted to cram the Wolverine movie with plenty of comics mainstays; if that’s your game, why not just proceed with X-Mens 4-10 with a rotating cast? But while I shake my head at the epic post-Singer mishandling of this franchise, I also have to say, come on: the odds of Wolverine being worse than Last Stand are pretty damn low. My main source of trepidation is that practically every single shot in the trailer has Hugh Jackman, who I’d argue does a better Wolverine than most of the comics and cartoon incarnations, growling, howling, or otherwise grinding his teeth in anguish. Half the fun of Jackman’s earlier performances, especially in the first movie, is his dry, sardonic side. Maybe it’s just the ad campaign, but this movie looks like it’s striving for something more tortured. Regardless, I’ll be there opening night, ready to have the reasonably good time that Last Stand‘s many offenses wouldn’t allow.
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past: I don’t mean to sound indelicate, but Matthew McConaughey’s ladies-man drawl is beginning to sound a teeny bit like a full-blown disability. Maybe it’s the incongruity of having such a doofus play some kind of metrosexual lothario. I didn’t see Fool’s Gold, nor do I ever want to, but if you’ve got MoCon playing an oft-shirtless hillbilly treasure hunter, I can probably buy it. As a wisecracking, fashionable photographer, not so much. McConaughey has been used well in the past (I adore his wacked-out work in Reign of Fire), but for the last few years he seems to be in some kind of deranged competition to create the romantic comedy I’d least want to see: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, The Wedding Planner, Failure to Launch, Fool’s Gold, and now this supernatural-tinged comedy from a director who showed absolutely no affinity for supernatural or comedy with the far more appealing-looking Just Like Heaven. Like January’s Bride Wars, Ghosts is kind of movie that looks so terrible that I have to wonder if it will represent some kind of breaking point even for its unwittingly abused target audience. And like Bride Wars, it will probably make at least $50 million even if it’s not a smash.
Battle for Terra: I’m not completely convinced this 3-D animated sci-fi action movie is actually coming out, but if it is, I’m guessing it will be the Delgo of the slightly-older set.
The Limits of Control: Hey, a new Jim Jarmusch movie! What do you suppose the odds are that it will involve the central figure, here a sort of international man of actual mystery, quietly listening to his favorite CD for a little while?
The Merry Gentleman: Michael Keaton has a bit of the Kevin Kline problem: an unconventional and quick-witted leading man in his youth, stranded by his lack of megastar status as he gets on in years. The Merry Gentleman is his directorial debut, and he’s given himself the especially sad movie-world cliché role of world-weary hitman. But his pairing with Kelly Macdonald certainly qualifies as the strangest recent meeting of two actors I really like. Maybe this will be a barely-seen good movie on par with Keaton’s last leading role of note in Game 6.